This week on The Harold & Maudecast we review M. Night Shyamalan's latest film, Split. 7.5/10 on our Justice & Doom movie meter. Split stars James McAvoy, Betty Buckley and Anya Taylor-Joy. For Split, Shyamalan and Blum reassemble their core team from The Visit, including producer Marc Bienstock and executive producers Ashwin Rajan and Steven Schneider.
In addition to Split, we review Shyamalan's, The Visit, which was the top grossing horror film of 2015. We also examine Shyamalan's vast body of work from The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village, The Happening and more. Take a listen!
Writer/director/producer Shyamalan returns to the captivating grip of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs with Split, an original thriller that delves into the mysterious recesses of one man’s fractured, gifted mind. Following last year’s breakout hit The Visit, Shyamalan reunites with producer Jason Blum (The Purge and Insidious series, The Gift) for the film.
While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being.
Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.
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|Posted by: Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe on Feb 3, 2017 at 6:11:05 pm|| movie reviews, split, m night shyamalan, horror, thriller, action, drama, movies, james mcavoy, multiple personalities|
Continuing The Harold & Maudecast's movie review series, 2016 Award Season Contenders, ARRIVAL, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (PRISONERS, SICARIO) written by Eric Heisserer (WARRIOR).
Linguistics Professor, Louise Banks (Adams) and Mathematician
Ian Donnelly (Renner) reporting to US Army Colonel Weber (Whitaker) must race to find a way to communicate with Aliens who have touched down in sphere-like vessels at 12 points across the globe. When global participation breaks down leading to a potential world war, Banks takes a dangerous chance that could destroy mankind, or save it. Here's hopin for the latter.
This sci fi/alien film aint what it seems. It's far more complex and will lead you to many false conclusions or none at all as you scratch your head when it's finally revealed. Adams once again proves worthy of her many Oscar nominations. It has elements of early Ridley Scott with its somber, gritty production design mirroring some of the same textures of the original ALIEN and odes to CONTACT and even CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. Yet, this film is very much it's own story with a new vision of what we think of as Aliens.
Verdict - Justice 8.5/10 - put it on your list.
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Now Streaming on your favorite VOD service, IM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, the 2016 horror/crime thriller starring Max Records, Laura Fraser and Christopher Lloyd. In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.
Based on the novel by Dan Wells the film is Directed by Billy O'Brien, Screenplay by Billy O'Brien and Christopher Hyde.
This film is more X Files than straight up horror. Christopher Lloyd fans will geek out over his wonderful performance and lookout for Max Records in the lead role as the would be serial killer turned crime sleuth/demon hunter. He's exceptional. There's a magnificent payoff at the end of the film -- we won't spoil it for you. But we do hash out the details of this well crafted indie film. Now streaming on Netflix. 7.8/10
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The Harold & Maudecast reviews the Now Playing film, ASSASSIN'S CREED produced by and starring Michael Fassbender, based on the Ubisoft video game.
Just as he thinks he's about to go straight to hell, convicted murderer and death row inmate Callum Lynch (Fassbender) finds himself the lab rat of a mysterious secret society. Hooked up for the VR experience of his life -- think Matrix + Dr. Octavius, Callum goes on a ride through his ancestral playground as Aguilar circa 15th Century Spain. Callum amasses a lot of mad skills which he will need to fight the powerful Templar organization in present day.
This story is a confusing mess. Not sure who the producers are targeting, video game fans, ain't gonna satisfy, new audiences? No way. Oddly the production level is super high with an incredible score and sound editing and sound effects that are Oscar worthy. Visually some stunning things in this film. Fassbender along with a formidable cast of acting heavy weights, Jeremy Irons, Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams and Brendan Gleeson, are completely wasted on this go nowhere story that relies to heavily on building a plot that has no foundation. Our advice to Hollywood, stop making movies based on video games. It doesn't work. 5/10
Release date: December 21, 2016 (USA)
Director: Justin Kurzel
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On Now Streaming Reviews on The HMC, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, the 2016 reboot of the 1960 classic western of the same name starring Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner.
The town of Rose Creek has been taken over by gold digging bad guy, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Saarsgard) who besides forcing the townspeople out, is literally gunning them down in the street. With new found motivation for vengeance after Bogue murders her husband, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennet), employs bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to take back the town. With the help of a ragtag group of outlaws, gamblers and gunslingers, this Magnificent Seven prepare for a violent showdown and find themselves fighting for more than money--righteousness.
If you're a Western fan, you'll dig this. It's not spectacular, but it delivers on action and performances. The original theme song makes a cameo at the very end, lots of critics have complained about it's absence in the film. Never fear, the new score by James Horner & Simon Franglen (AVATAR, TITANIC), is superb elevating the film to a higher level that perhaps it deserves. It's a simple story, based original on Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI, so don't go looking for anything complex or profound Westworld fans. Denzel is fantastic, also shoutout to Korean actor Byung‑hun Lee (I SAW THE DEVEL, GI JOE), who shines as Ethan Hawke's protector/BFF.
7.3/10 for this film, it's worth a Stream! Justice.
The Harold & Maudecast review the film, ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, Directed by Gareth Edwards, Written by Chris Weitz (screenplay), Tony Gilroy (screenplay), starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away a group of rebels stole the plans to the Death Star. Memba the Death Star? Memba Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, and Obi Wan Kenobi and Hans Solo and Chewbaca and R2D2 and C3PO? Yeah well, before Princess Leia said "Help me Obi Wan, you're my only hope", those plans had to be retrieved. Not only that, the Death Star had to be designed, right? Did you ever wonder who stole those plans or who the scientist was behind that marvel of human engineering? Well, you're questions are answered in this prequel to Episode 4, A NEW HOPE.
Galen Erso (Mikkelsen) is said scientist. He is so crucial to the success of the Death Star that Imperial bad guy Orson Krennic (Mendelsohn) chases him across the galaxy until he finds him on a farming planet where Galen his wife and daughter, Jyn, have been hiding. Unable to escape the Empire, Galen is forced to return but not before securing his daughters escape. Years later, now a young woman, having been raised by Galen's buddy in arms, Saw Gerrera (Whitaker), Jyn must choose to follow her destiny or stay on her destructive path of mild juvenile delinquency. Aided by a mish mosh crew made up of rebel assassin Cassian Andor (Luna), a Jedi wannabe/neverwas, Chirrut Îmwe, (Yen) and his cohort, and a new British accent toting cyber being, K-2SO, Jyn takes up her father's crusade to fight the empire -- Plan A: Steal them Death Star plans!
We wish we could say we loved this film, sadly, nope. ROGUE ONE manages to suck all the magic out of the STAR WARS franchise with a dreary, lackluster story driven solely by Disney's exploitation of nostalgia. Even the original score, which had possibly the single greatest source material to draw from, was unremarkable and did nothing to raise the spirit of this pointless and boring film. Sorry STAR WARS fans.
This week on the Harold & Maudecast's Now Streaming Reviews, STAR TREK BEYOND! It premiered at Comic Con in July 2016 and has just been released on DVD and is Now Streaming on Amazon and other VOD services.
This time around, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the enterprise head into uncharted space on a rescue mission to help an alien ship that has been attacked by an unknown foe. After discovering there is no ship to rescue, they quickly find themselves under attack by a new enemy, Krall (Idris Elba) and his army who capture the crew, destroy the ship, and leave Jim and the gang dispersed and defenseless on an alien planet. As Jim tries to save his crew members, Krall plots to destroy the Federation. It's up to our heroes to stop him.
START TREK BEYOND, is an action packed, visually exciting, fun thrill ride. All the returning Enterprise crew members are back including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Jon Cho and Anton Yelchin. New to space in addition to Idris Elba brilliantly playing bad guy Krall is Sofia Boutella (KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE) as alien baddass, Jaylah. Sweet tributes to Yelchin and Leonard Nimoy who both passed in 2016. Much justice for STAR TREK BEYOND. This 3rd installment of the JJ Abrahams reboot is helmed by Justin Lin (Fast Furious franchise) and written by Simon Pegg (aka Scotty) and Doug Jung (CONFIDENCE). The new direction and writing makes an enormous impact on the blueprint of the film, sending us into uncharted territory with this franchise. Witty, fresh, and captivating from beginning to end, STAR TREK BEYOND is definitely worth the Stream. 8.5/10
JACKIE is an immersive and intimate portrait of the immediate aftermath following the assassination of JFK as seen through the eyes of First Lady, Jackie Kennedy. The film stars NATALIE PORTMAN in the title role, PETER SARSGAARD as Bobby Kennedy, GRETA GERWIG as Nancy Tuckerman who was the Social Security to the Kennedy White House, Billy Crudup as The Journalist and John Hurt as The Priest. The film is Directed by Pablo LARRAÍN, Written by Noah Oppenheim and Produced by Juan de Dios LARRAÍN, Darren ARONOFSKY, Mickey LIDDELL, Scott FRANKLIN, Ari HANDEL. Distributed by Fox Searchlight.
The story narrative is facilitated by The Journalist, played by Billy Crudup who visits Mrs. Kennedy within a week of her husband’s death and funeral. Through this meeting she unveils her deepest emotions about his death, their marriage and what some deemed as the spectacle of his funeral. None which she allows the Journalist to print, however it breaths new insight into the mindset of Jackie and how she truly was the Designer of Camelot.
Every often prosaic detail of the business of burying a President is explored and examined. It is through these pedestrian tasks and rituals that we gain unprecedented and immeasurable access to Jackie’s emotions and character. The film is so immersive at times one feels they are not only in the room with her, but you are literally inside her mind.
The punctuation for the film is provided by a jeering and haunting score composed by Mica Levi. The film in fact opens with the almost incongruent sounds of the strings. It instantly creates an atmosphere, one you were not expecting-- it feels Kubrick-esque, the screen is black and for a moment you’ve forgotten what film you’re about to see. Enter Jackie walking, Portman’s, who gives a mind-blowing performance, walks on online, silent yet you know by her face and walk, the deed as already been done.
The costume design by Madeline FONTAINE (Amelie) plays a crucial role in the storytelling. Fontaine manages to mirror the iconic fashions, now synonymous with Jackie, yet creating what appears to be a brand new collection, that we the viewer are seeing for the first time. It’s remarkable.
Every facet of this film is as impeccable as Jackie herself. The moody yet sometimes colorful production design by Jean RABASSE, Sebastián SEPULVEDA’s editing which often steals the scenes, the robust performances by the entire cast and Pablo LARRAÍN’s aggressive yet graceful direction -- perfectly mirroring the paradox of Jackie herself. This film is near flawlesss.
This week on The HMC's Now Playing Reviews, MOANA, the latest animated film from Disney Pixar studios, is set in Ancient Polynesia where a young girl, Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) embarks on a great quest to return a stone, The Heart of the Ocean, to its rightful owner restoring life to the island where her people live. Aiding her on her quest, Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a demo-God who thrust them into this fine mess by stealing The Heart of the Ocean, must recover his mystical hook to regain his shape shifting powers and redeem himself.
The cast is rounded out by some veteran New Zealand actors including Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and the amazing Rachel House (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Gramma Tala.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) co-wrote the original songs along with Opetaia Foa'i, original score and songs by Mark Mancina.
Despite the films stunning visuals and many fun moments (Look for Jemaine as a giant singing crab), the story itself has a dragging second act and too many unexplained anecdotes--Most notably; when Moana and Maui are attacked by a giant ship filled with coconut pirates who also want to recover The Heart of the Ocean in Moana's possession. It's one of the coolest sequences in the film from a visual perspective, but completely out of left field and these coconut pirates, though super fun, are never given an origin story or explanation as to why they too our pursuing the stone.
Though it may not secure its position in the Pixar hall of fame, by our measure, MOANA is fun and entertaining and visually fantastic. And bonus! The Rock sings, can this guy do literally everything???
Justice for MOANA, it gets a 8.3/10 on the Justice & Doom Movie Meter 8.3/10
The Harold & Maudecast review's DOCTOR STRANGE, Marvel's latest super hero to hit the big screen. Now Playing.
Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant and egotistical neurosurgeon loses everything when a car wreck strips him of the use of his hands. After traditional medicine fails him he travels to the secret compound Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu. It is there he discovers The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who aids him in mastering both the mystical arts as well as martial arts. What was a quest to regain his old life becomes a journey into redemeption and power as he transforms into a powerful sorcerer. Meanwhile, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), ex student of The Ancient One turned evil dooer, seeks to destroy the Sanctums that protect the earth from other dimensions. Strange along with fellow sorcerer, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) must defeat the powerful demon, Dormammu of the Dark Dimension before he destroys the earth.
Directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson (SINISTER), DOCTOR STRANGE delivers a visual feast with it's architectural bending production design. The story is standard issue Marvel blueprint, for better and somewhat for worse, falling to deliver enough of a back story to make this newly introduced super hero credible. Thanks to the heavy weight line up of actors--look for Mikkelsen's performance as the stand out, and the visual eye candy that is truly mind blowing, it's worth the theater go. 8/10
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This week on The Harold & Maudecast's countdown to Halloween Movie Reviews, OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL. In 1967 Los Angeles a widowed fortune teller (Elizabeth Reaser) tries to make ends meet for herself and daughters Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson) by boosting their séance scam with a new prop, a Ouija board. Bad news for the family when daughter Doris unwittingly unleashes unwanted evil entities. Even Father Tom (Henry Thomas) can't fight these grim creatures.
OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL is the surprise sleeper hit of the October movie season. With clever jump scares, a well crafted story by Co-Writers Jeff Howard and Mike Flannagan this film is a must see for movie fans. Flannagan, best known for OCULUS and HUSH also directed this film. He is proving himself to be one of the best horror/thriller directors working today and one to watch for the future.
Lulu Wilson (DELIVER US FROM EVIL) gives a breakout performance as Doris. Always great to see Henry Thomas aka Eliot (E.T.) and Elizabeth Reaser steps out of the shadow of the TWILIGHT series and delivers a fantastic performance as well.
Bonus! Listen for the haunting score by The Newton Brothers.
OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL is this year's THE CONJURING. It delivers the scares, and the story. 8.5/10
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On Now Playing Movie Reviews, Sarah and Jake from the Harold & Maudecast review DON'T BREATHE, an independent horror/thriller starring Stephen Lange (AVATAR) and Jane Levy (SUBURGATORY), Directed by Fede Alvarez (EVIL DEAD 2013). Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems.
Definitely kept us on the edge of our seats, this is more Thriller than Horror. Stephen Lange delivers as a bad ass fighter and actor. The rest of the cast was lacking, but super solid direction, cinematography and a decent script kept this moving in the right direction. 7.8/10 on our Justice and Doom Movie Meter scale.
In this week's Now Playing we review the film, HELL OR HIGH WATER. Facing the foreclosure of the family ranch, divorced father of 2 Tobey (Chris Pine) enlists the help of his ex-con brother Tanner (Ben Foster), to rob banks in order to pay back the money. Hot on their trail is Marshall Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) on his last mission before retiring.
The film is directed by David Mackenzie (YOUNG ADAM) and written by Taylor Sheridan (SICARIO). Big Justice for the script, direction, and acting, potential Oscar nods all around. 9/10 Take a listen and visit www.haroldmaudecast.com for more cool stuff and podcasts.
This week on Now Playing Reviews, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, a new stop-motion animated featured from Oscar nominated Director of THE BOXTROLLS, Travis Knight whose other credits include PARANORMAN and CORALINE.
Kubo (Art Parkinson - Rickon from Game of Thrones) enlists the help of a talking monkey (Charlize Theron) and a knightly beetle (Matthew McConaughey) on his quest to find his father's magical suit of armor. Along the way they encounter danger in the form of his wicked Aunts (Rooney Mara) and evil spirit grandfather (Ralph Fiennes).
This film was an incredible disappointment. The promise of an entire feature in stop-motion animation was so intriguing but the story does not live up to the spectacular visuals. Additionally, the character voices seem picked for sheer star power vs story aid or character arc. Epic Fail on that front. Still, some Justice for the sheer spectacle and beauty of the animate. 6/10
This week on Now Streaming, we review the 2016 film THE INVITATION starring Logan Marshall-Green (PROMETHEUS), John Carroll Lynch (American Horror Story: Freak Show), Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones) and Tammy Blanchard (MONEYBALL). The horror/thriller is directed by Karyn Kusama (GIRLFIGHT) and written by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi. If you attended a dinner party hosted by your ex-wife and her new boyfriend at your old home, and they broke out a video of their new found love for a cult in which they circle around to watch people die, would you stay? Yeah. Well, with the exception of Will (Logan Michael-Green) this group doesn't quite catch on fast enough.
This film completely messes with your mind and it is AWESOME! Killer performances/writing/directions, it's a gem of a find. Stream it now! Big Justice.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE written and directed by New Zealand actor/writer/filmmaker Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS), is one of the best films of the Summer. Waititi adapted the screenplay from the novel by Barry Crump. It follows the story of Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a bad egg, who by circumstance finds himself on a journey into the New Zealand Bush with his newly adopted Foster "uncle" Hector, brilliantly played by the great Sam Neill.
After an award nabbing tour of the festival route, the film opened in the US on June 24th. We won't insult the film's intelligence by labeling it a mere "Feel Gooder" it's oh so much more. Newcomer Dennison is phenomenal as Ricky Baker, equal snaps to the wonderful supporting cast and Waititi is poised to emerge as the next genius storyteller.
9.5/10 on the Justice & Doom Meter. Much Justice!
Who doesn't love Horror movies in the Summer!? This week we review two horror/thriller films one Now Playing and the other Now Streaming.
HUSH from Writer/Director Mike Flanagan starring Kate Siegel who co-wrote the script and John Gallagher, Jr. It's a thriller with horror elements about a writer living in isolation in a house in the woods with just a couple nearby neighbors. She finally seems to break through her writer's block when a masked man appears to torment her forcing her to fight for her life. Just when you think you've seen every thriller plot twist and jump scare there possibly is in suspense films, think again. This well crafted script backed by solid performances from Gallagher and Siegel delivers. Be prepared to watch it with a pillow covering your face. It's that scary.
THE CONJURING 2 is the much anticipated (amongst horror lovers) sequel to the 2013 film THE CONJURING. Reprising their roles as real-life 1970s paranormal sleuths Ed and Lorraine Warren are Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. Also returning is Director James Wan who in addition to THE CONJURING birthed the INSIDIOUS and SAW franchises. The Warren's case files include the infamous Amityville Horror incident which finds its way into the beginning of this sequel. This time the Warren's travel to London to investigate, on behalf of the Catholic church, a family being tormented by the ghost of an elderly man who died in their house. Turns out, it's a lot more sinister than that as the Warren's discover ties to Lorraine's earlier visions and the Amityville case. Though not as good as its predecessor, THE CONJURING 2 delivers on the jump scares -- you won't see them coming. And the demon takes the form of the CREEPIEST nun ever which says a lot coming from two hosts who endured Catholic school. As a standalone horror film, its solid, very scary, good performances, as part of this franchise, slightly lessor than the original. Listen to our review for our full 2 cents!
HUSH - 8.5/10
THE CONJURING 2 - 7.8/10
|Posted by: Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe on Jun 19, 2016 at 10:48:19 am||Comments (1)|| movie reviews, conjuring 2, hush, amityville horror, horror, summer movies, mike flanagan, vera farmiga, patrick wilson, james wan||
Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe
The HMC Network is a podcast network featuring genre entertainment commentary, movie and TV reviews, video game reviews, lifestyle & travel, event & Con media coverage & more. Featured on the Creative COW is our flagship podcast, The Harold & Maudecast hosted by Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe. The Harold & Maudecast covers recaps and reviews of the latest Walking Dead and Game of Thrones episodes, Now Playing movie reviews, film festival and Comic Con & fan fest event coverage, technology expos and more.
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